Christian Eriksen Proving the Perfect Player for Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs

Jack Lusby@jacklusby_Featured ColumnistDecember 2, 2014


Christian Eriksen's performance for Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's 2-1 Premier League victory over top-four rivals Everton outlined exactly why the midfielder is the perfect player for Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs.

Eriksen's goal cancelled out a marvellous opener from Everton's Kevin Mirallas, before a rare goal from troubled striker Roberto Soldado sealed all three points for Spurs.

However, it was in some fine all-round defensive work from the side that truly earned the win, and this could represent a real turning point in what has been a onerous season for Spurs so far.

Pochettino's side now sit in seventh place in the Premier League table, level with north London rivals Arsenal and three points above Everton.

Tottenham Hotspur @SpursOfficial

"@ChrisEriksen8: The last home games haven't been great so we're delighted to do it for the fans. We showed we have a good mentality." #COYS

Eriksen is swiftly becoming an icon for the club, and this is aided by him excellently suiting Pochettino's demanding system.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 05:  Christian Eriksen of Ajax looks for the ball during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax and Willem II Tilburg at Amsterdam Arena on May 5, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Fulfilling Potential

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Long before Eriksen's move to north London, the midfielder was regarded as one of European football's most promising young talents, and this culminated in the Dane being included in the shortlist for the 2011 European Golden Boy award, per TheFootballAddictBlog.com.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal is pursued by Christian Eriksen of  Spurs during the Budweiser FA Cup match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on January 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Gett
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Joining Eriksen were Eden Hazard, Thiago Alcantara, Jack Wilshere and eventual winner Mario Gotze.

These players formed part of a phenomenally talented group of young midfield dynamos feted to be the next big thing in Europe—fellow alumni include Sergio Canales, Xherdan Shaqiri and Paulo Henrique Ganso.

It took a long while for Eriksen to finally move from Ajax and, after regular links with Premier League rivals Liverpool, it was a surprise when Spurs became his chosen destination.

On an £11.5 million move in 2013, Eriksen told TottenhamHotspur.com that "it's really exciting when you look at the players the club is getting and I’m one of them. The club is going up, the players also and that’s what I want to be a part of."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 16: Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur and Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at Boleyn Ground on August 16, 2014 in London, England.  (Ph
Julian Finney/Getty Images

This season, Eriksen has looked to finally fulfill his immense potential, and is becoming one of the Premier League's most exciting attacking talents.

The 22-year-old has made an average of two key passes per game in the Premier League—more than any other Spurs player.

Furthermore, Eriksen's most tangible output is in his goalscoring, and the No. 23 has already scored five league goals this season, leaving him only second behind Nacer Chadli, who has scored six, in the Spurs squad.

Tottenham Hotspur @SpursOfficial

Here's the moment that @ChrisEriksen8's deft finish drew us level. #COYS http://t.co/ovg1enAZZA

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

Wonderfully clever finish from Eriksen. Such a smart player

One of these came against Everton, and it was this delightful clipped equaliser which outlines a growing confidence in Eriksen that has come with a fulfilled potential.

Now, that bright young talent is developing his game even further.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Christian Eriksen of Spurs battles for the ball with Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on October 5, 2014 in London, England.
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Added Tenacity

Having risen to become one of Europe's finest young talents alongside players such as Thiago and Hazard, Eriksen is now showcasing a different element to his game.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Christian Eriksen of Spurs runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at White Hart Lane on October 26, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Ge
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Against Everton, Eriksen made six successful tackles—second only to the colossal Sylvain Distin (7) on the day—and this was crucial to Spurs' victory.

Of all of Spurs' more attack-minded midfielders, only box-to-box behemoth Moussa Dembele has made more tackles on average per game this season (2.1) than Eriksen (1.9), but the Belgian has played just over a third of the minutes.

Furthermore, Eriksen makes more interceptions on average per game with 0.6, compared to Dembele's 0.3.

Eriksen is developing under Pochettino in the same way that fellow highly rated, young attacking midfielders Oscar and Philippe Coutinho are at Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27:  Fabian Delph of Aston Villa goes past the challenge from Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on September 27, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The systems of Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers similarly demand a consistently high-tempo, pressing game, and players in their role are expected to join the centre-forward as the first line of defence.

It is for this reason that Hazard is more suited to a wide role at Stamford Bridge, despite possessing the guile and finesse of a classic No. 10.

This sets Eriksen apart from his contemporaries, and may make the No. 23 a more valuable asset as modern football develops.

With an added tenacity to his polished attacking thrust, Eriksen fits perfectly into Pochettino's style at Spurs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Manager Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs reacts after Roberto Soldado of Spurs (not pictured) scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton at White Hart Lane on Novembe
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Pochettino's System

Prior to the victory over Everton, Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen told Sky Sports, per the side's Twitter account, that "We want to start every game well from the first minute. We want to start quick and press them."

Vertonghen continued: "We want to put them under early pressure & create chances. The support can be important. I'm confident we can start fast."

While it was Roberto Martinez's side that came out the blocks quickest, and Mirallas' fine, curled effort their just reward, what the defender highlights is Pochettino's underlying philosophy.

This is a philosophy that Martinez also advocates, resulting in an enthralling encounter.

Gary Neville @GNev2

Enjoyed Spurs performance yesterday for the first time in a long time. Could see a team ethic and 11 players buying in to their manager.

Gary Neville @GNev2

Don't think Everton played badly in the match but Spurs had a higher intensity to their game.

During an August press conference, his first after being installed as new Spurs manager in May, Pochettino claimed: "Always the result is important, but just as important is the ride you take to get to the result," per The Independent.

This ride is, ideally, a high-intensity, persistent performance as much engineered to win the ball back from opponents as it is to create chances.

The manager continued that "for me, it is about exciting football, pressing high, playing with flair—this is our philosophy that we want to get down. We want to put all these things in place."

HULL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring the winning goal with Paulinho during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur at KC Stadium on November 23, 2014 in Hull, England.  (
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In summary, Pochettino declared: "The most important thing is to create a good organisation and a good shape for our players to be comfortable and to show their real qualities."

Eriksen, a player with an abundance of flair and a penchant for excitement, fits this system adroitly, but it is an added tenacity that Pochettino's appointment has summoned that must truly endear the midfielder to his manager.

As a phenomenal, all-round performance showed against Everton on Sunday, Christian Eriksen is developing into the perfect player to fit Mauricio Pochettino's system at Tottenham Hotspur.

Statistics via WhoScored.com.

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